Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Much apparent paraphyly with S. tectes, S. dacotiae and S. leucurus#R#R, prompting some to split present species, as here constituted, into at least three (and perhaps five) species. Has been treated as conspecific with S. leucurus. Genetic analyses#R#R and supposed sympatric occurrence of two taxa have triggered widespread (but not complete#R) acceptance this century that at least three species exist within present complex (with a further suggestion that race stejnegeri merits monotypic species rank#R), but evidence still relatively poor#R. Molecular work used mtDNA, did not sample all taxa and did not replicate closely, while the issue of what happens where races rubicola and variegatus (formerly called armenicus) meet in Turkey is unclear#R and requires detailed research. Moreover, plumage differences between proposed species can be very slight, as in the case of maurus and stejnegeri#R and rubicola and maurus#R; indeed, birds on Sicily included in rubicola, but most closely resemble maurus (hence a challenge to splitting the latter), and have been named archimedes. Evidence is accumulating that the morphologically rather distinctive S. dacotiae and S. tectes might be subsumed within present species, chiefly on genetic grounds, although until there is a fully comprehensive review of all taxa this move appears inadvisable; race sibilla also speculated as a possible species#R while the relatively distinctive highland race albofasciatus has been mentioned in passing as an additional species#R. Further splitting could be argued for, e.g. in the case of rather distinct and apparently parapatrically abutting forms indicus and przewalskii; on the other hand, variation also exists within races, and several taxa may be unworthy of recognition while others may deserve reinstatement. Races adamauae (N & W Cameroon) and pallidigula (Mt Cameroon and Bioko) are treated as synonyms of salax, and altivagus is included in promiscuus. Racial affiliation of population recently found breeding in NW Thailand unknown. Twenty-four subspecies recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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